Julia Kuzmenko’s Top Tools for Beauty Photography

Written by: Julia Kuzmenko

Ever since I discovered the beautiful light that Para 88 produces, I don’t have to think twice when planning the lighting for my shoots.

By default, I choose Para 88 for all of my commercial and personal beauty work, and only if a client requests a more dramatic look, or the location does not allow the use of a larger stand for the Para, I will go for my Beauty Dish.

In some cases, when the client is unsure as to what kind of lighting they prefer in the images, I set up two main lights with both light modifiers – Para 88 and a Beauty Dish – and allow the client to choose the look they like after taking a couple of test shots with each light modifier.

Two setups for Urban Decay Cosmetics, Newport Beach, CA

For this photo shoot, my team and I got together at a studio where I could use light stands with a larger foot-print for the Para 88; we had a beautiful collection of jewelry from Spain (RL JEWEL) and our model was the stunning ANTM finalist Mamé Adjei.

In my commercial work, I often photograph a few models of different skin tones within one shoot, and I had noticed that darker skin tones are so much easier to retouch when they are photographed with Para 88 and a diffusion sock. Needless to say, it has become my first choice for shoots with dark-skinned models especially.

For this photo shoot our goal was to demonstrate the beautiful jewelry pieces while keeping the model’s skin pleasantly clean and glowy. My colleague, makeup artist Vlada Haggerty, changed the eye makeup throughout the shoot to match the color of the jewelry for each look.

The entire story was photographed with one light – Siros 800 s and Para 88 with diffusion. I placed my model close enough to the backdrop, so that my main light could reach it as well. I always try to avoid capturing a completely black background, as I feel it rids images off visual depth.

I photographed this series with my Canon 5Ds and my favorite 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens. My camera settings were: aperture f/13, shutter speed 1/160s sec, ISO 200 (the minimal ISO setting on this camera).

Julia Kuzmenko is a beauty and portrait photographer and retoucher based out of Los Angeles, CA. With her love for beauty, cosmetics, editorial makeup and skincare, she has been able to master the craft to produce beautiful work for clients across the globe. To check out more of her work visit juliakuzmenko.com or follow her on instagram @juliakuzmenko .